This post probably isn’t going to go the way you think…
I’m at the gym. I’ve just spent 30 solid minutes swimming. I’m tired. As I’m at the locker getting ready to shower, two gentlemen in the same aisle are having a conversation.
Gentleman 1: I just don’t get it.
Gentleman 2: Me either.
G1: They just want to sit at home and stare at screens.
G1: When I was their age, sure I had an Atari, we even had a computer, and TV, but I still went out riding bikes and playing with other kids, and sports and camping and all that.
G2: The kids today have changed. It makes it hard on us parents.
G1: It was never this hard for my parents.
This was the point where I stepped in.
Me: You mind if I jump in?
G1: Your kids spend too much time inside too?
Me: Oh, it’s not that. Let’s me ask. You have kids, right?
Me: And they have bikes?
Me: And when they ride them, do you make them wear safety helmets?
G1: Of course!
Me: When you were their age, you had a bike?
Me: And your parents, did they make you wear a helmet when you rode it?
G1: No, but things were different then.
G1: It was more safe.
Me: No, it wasn’t. Riding a bike today is exactly as dangerous as it was when you were a kid. The only thing that has changed is that science now understands injuries better, and studies have shown that kids on bikes can survive bruises and scrapes, but a head injury can be traumatic and lasting. Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the chance of sustaining a head or brain injury.
Me: That was true back in the 70s and 80s too, we just didn’t know it yet. You should have been wearing a helmet back then. Your parents were terrible parents.
G1: They didn’t know any better!
Me: Right! And if they had told you to wear a helmet, you probably would have thought it was dorky. And if they said you couldn’t ride the bike without the helmet then you probably would have ridden the bike less and played more Atari.
G1: What are you saying?
Me: Kids today have changed, but not entirely on their own. Kids today are sometimes reacting to how parents have changed.
G2: What’s wrong with parents changing?
Me: Nothing. Just stop blaming the kids for it.
Then I went and showered.
I admit, I don’t understand a lot of things that kids do these days. But I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t understand what I did all the time either. And so, when I see a kid do something that I don’t get, rather than lament “Kids today!! Ugh!!” I try to understand why they’re doing it instead.